Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

The show must go on

Posted: February 8, 2011 in NFL
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It’s now that time of the year: the National Football League has declared a world champion from the Super Bowl, the ever-so popular Pro Bowl has run it’s course (hope you caught the sarcasm), teams are scrambling to find the next-best bargain in free agency and college athletes begin to prepare and prove themselves in The Final Judgment, or what we call the NFL Combine.

What has seemed to be a cyclical time period in years past has now halted in front of one major obstacle: the collective bargaining agreement.

It seems to be a confusing and sort of vague subject for the common fan to get a grasp of, so let me break it down for you:

  • Two years ago, NFL owners opted out of the then current CBA contract because they believed the players got the bigger piece of the “pie” (which in reality they did, taking in roughly 60% of a team’s revenue)
  • During the tough times of our slumping economy, owners want to reconstruct the agreement to make it more even, such as aiding them in stadium debts from renovations and repairs as well as other needs. To accommodate this the players’ salaries must be cut.
  • When the owners chose to opt out, the contract was scheduled to expire March 3rd after the 2010 season. Once it does hit the 3rd of March, owners can choose to “lockout” their players by not paying them or holding any team-sponsored activities. Players may respond by forming together as a union and file an anti-trust lawsuit/go on strike.
  • The NFL Draft will occur but teams cannot sign draft picks, restricted and unrestricted free agents, or perform trades. Owners cannot really come in contact with their players.
  • It comes down to this: owners want roughly $1 billion off of revenue and implement an 18% pay cut to the players while players want the same deal from previous years. (courtesy of SFGate.com)

After all that technical red tape, nobody wants to see a lockout. Better yet, no player, owner, merchandiser or blue-collared fan can afford to see a lockout occur. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell believes that there will be an agreement before the expiration date. However, with all the media commotion and the tension between both sides of the argument, it could be a toss-up on how long this circus will last. In order to see another day of football a few things need to occur.

First off, and of course the most ideal circumstance, is that the media needs to stop hyping up the commotion and let the two sides figure it out. The fans of America do need to be updated on this current crisis, but I think it’d be better off if we didn’t see the NFL Players Association homepage announce  that “Union Representative  Rodgers Named Superbowl MVP”. It only adds more fuel to the fire.

Next off is the classic case of compromise: Owners want to add two more additional games to their schedules to bring in more money while players attest that their bodies take enough damage as it is. And the redundant dilemma of the rich arguing who should be richer. Why don’t you try this on for size: getting rid of the bye week, ultimately just adding one game while eliminating or decreasing preseason games to lessen the chance of a player injury.

And for the salary impasse? Players and owners/personnel should split their  respective revenue and re-work contracts with more incentives. Contracts with more incentives+player’s desire to gain more money+the debacle of ownership debt= Players playing (and getting paid) at the level they deserve while owners don’t feel regretful in unloading cash into their roster because of the high generation of revenue. If players are performing well, the more likely a fan will pay the X amount of dollars to see them play. It’s not rocket science.

What also needs to be looked at are rookie salaries. It was discussed that the NFL was looking into adopting a system the NBA currently has for it’s rookies by using a maximum salary cap to sign draft picks. It makes one sick to think that former 1st round picks-turn-busts Vince Young, JaMarcus Russell, and Matt Leinart walked away with tens of millions of dollars while not living up to the hype of their glamorous college careers.

Lastly, it was enjoyable to see that the NFL and the NFLPA finally met for the first time in months, in which players such as Drew Brees and Peyton Manning as well as owners, like Clark Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs, were able to discuss the agreement. This is the foundation for what should/needs to happen in the future: owners and players actually meeting, rather than bickering, to deliberate on how to make things work.

It truly is a waiting game for us fans. Do I believe that there will not be 2011-12 season at all? Doubt it. But with the slow pace it’s already taking, you can only cross your fingers for so long.

Hey, at least pitchers and catchers report to camp in one week…

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and head of NFLPA DeMaurice Smith

2011 NFL Mock Draft (Picks 1-10)

Posted: January 7, 2011 in NFL
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I know it’s a little early, but I believe with all the heat and chaos on which college football hot shot is or isn’t entering the upcoming NFL draft. But, with the first 10 picks a lock (position wise, that is), I figured I’d take a stab at the first 10 picks for the 2011 NFL Draft.

1. Carolina Panthers – AJ Green, WR, Georgia
The Panthers made headlines earlier this week by announcing to the press that they would take prized Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck with their 1st overall pick. However, with Luck making his announcement to stay at Stanford for another year (and another run at the Heisman), look to see the Panthers help out current QB Jimmy Clausen with an eccentric, talented wide out like Green to help out the poor, current receiving core. With aging and injury plagued Steve Smith not the same top receiver he was for the Panthers a few years ago, Green would be the first receiver since 1996 (Keyshawn Johnson) to be taken 1st overall.

2. Denver Broncos – Patrick Peterson, CB, Louisiana State
The Broncos’ season has just been dismal. From a the firing of a failed 2nd year coach with just being absolutely horrific on defense, it’s clear where Denver needs to draft. Peterson would provide a nice fit with a potential scenario of current veteran corner Champ Bailey retiring or moving to safety alongside Brian Dawkins. With a hard-nose style of defense and great man coverage in the corner, I can see Peterson becoming an immediate impact player.

3. Buffalo Bills – Cameron Newton, QB, Auburn
A lot of draft analysts had Clemson defensive end (and recently declared) Da’Quan Bowers as the Bills pick here to help improve their pass rush. However, the Bills have had constant quarterback problems throughout the years (Kelly Holcomb, JP Losman, Trent Edwards) and while few believe the franchise can rest upon the shoulders of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Bills would be naive to not take Newton here. Plus, the city of Buffalo could use a little flair to it’s football team and that and more is exactly what Newton would bring.

4. Cincinnati Bengals – Nick Fairly, DT, Auburn
Back to back Auburn picks here but Cincinnati desperately needs an anchor in their 4-3 defense. Fairly is a versatile defensive tackle in which he can stop the run as well as provide a solid pass rush, killing two birds with one stone. The Bengals either take Fairly or Bowers at this spot.

5. Arizona Cardinals – Da’Quan Bowers, DE, Clemson
One would think with the quarterback catastrophe the Cardinals faced this year they would end up drafting one, but the defensive players in this draft are too good to pass up on. Bowers is the best defensive end, if not, arguably, the best defensive player in this draft and plays like an tough end as well as linebacker, in which he’d be well suited in Arizona’s 3-4 defensive scheme.

6. Cleveland Browns – Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska
The Cleveland Browns have consistently struggled at defensive, especially against the pass. Amukamara is a shut down corner, and with Peterson already taken, it’s a no brainer for the Browns to take Prince here. Amukamara is a definitely worthy of a starting position and I believe he’d compliment Joe Haden quite nicely.

7. San Francisco 49ers – Ryan Mallet, QB, Arkansas
It’s either Mallet or Missouri’s Blaine Gabbert, but the 49ers cannot have another Alex Smith. That’s why I believe Mallet has the edge over Gabbert because of his experience and has proven himself by playing in the SEC, much tougher than the Big 12. If San Fransisco wants to move out of the bottom of the NFC, they need to take a quarterback here.

8. Tennessee Titans – Marcell Dareus, DT/DE, Alabama
After the Titans organization recently stated they do not intend to bring back former 1st round pick Vince Young at quarterback, it just doesn’t make sense for them to draft similar styled QB Cam Newton if he were to drop. However, the Titans have a void to fill after they lost DT Albert Haynesworth to free agency, Dareus would be a great fit here with his bulky physique and pass-rush edge.

9. Dallas Cowboys – Nate Solder, OT, Colorado
There aren’t too many offensive lineman in this year’s draft, so the Cowboys need to capitalize early with their pick. All but one of the Cowboy’s offensive lineman are over 30 and with injuries to Marc Colombo and penalty problems with Leonard Davis, Solder is the safe pick here.

10. Washington Redskins – Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State
The Redskins could either take a running back (Mark Ingram out of Alabama), or a wide receiver (Justin Blackmon from Oklahoma State, if not, Alabama’s Julio Jones) with their pick here. But Paea is a great defensive player that leaves Washington no choice but to pick him up. Albert Haynesworth has shown that he is not a reliable defensive tackle so it would be a great step forward for the Redskins defense to have Paea up front.

And that’s it! I will be doing the remaining picks section by section as we near the draft and tread on through the playoffs.

The year of the scramblers

Posted: November 18, 2010 in NFL
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The prototypical professional quarterback:  6’4”, 225 lbs, white, NCAA Division I football material, and a right-handed gunslinger. One who would rather distribute the ball in blitzing schemes than take on a linebacker mono y mono.

Times have changed as the years have progressed in the National Football League. Teams are starting and utilizing quarterbacks that are more than just a brain and an arm. Quarterbacks that have athleticism, mobility, and can peel out of the pocket to strengthen their offensive attack.

Take a look at Michael Vick, someone who the public believed would be playing for an AFL team or out of football ever since his time spent in prison for dog fighting in 2007. The same guy who was signed by the Philadelphia Eagles last year just to run a few QB sneaks or draw plays to give ex-starter Donovan McNabb a break. The same guy who was not supposed to start the 2010-11 season because of someone named Kevin Kolb.

Courtesy of tnspsportsnet.com

That same Michael Vick, the one who tangled up defensive backs’ ankles with his finese back in his hay days as an Atlanta Falcon, is tearing it up. No one thought his career as a scrambler, let alone a quarterback, could ever be revitalized.

With a league leading quarterback rating of 115.07 complimented by 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions, no wonder the Eagles are soaring with a 6-3 record with a dark horse MVP candidate taking their snaps.

But it’s not just Vick who leads the category of unconventional quarterback success. Sophomore scrambler Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers is having a season of his own as well: close to 2,000 passing yards, 12 touchdowns, five interceptions with 221 rushing yards (6.5 avg) to lead the young motley crew Bucs to a 6-3 record. Tampa Bay would have dreamed of having six wins at the beginning of the season.

You can even look at Aaron Rodgers, the face of the post-Favre era in Green Bay, as success with the run game. Even though he’s known for his cannon of an arm (over 4,000 passing yards in the past two seasons), Rodgers has himself over 170 rushing yards with three scores and the Pack stand at an NFC North leading 6-3.

Troy Smith, the 2006 Heisman dual threat winner who didn’t even get a chance as a Baltimore Raven, is looking to revitalize the depressing San Francisco 49ers (who claimed him off waivers) offense and is clearly on the right foot forward: 552 passing yards (a career high despite only starting two games), two touchdowns, and a 2nd chance for his career.

Don’t forget about the veterans Jason Campbell of the Oakland Raiders, who lead the AFC West, and Donovan McNabb of the Washington Redskins, who have as many wins as they did last year total. Both have had very different, distinguishable careers but yet have kept in tact a running game that suits their power-arm passing game and have maintained that through their years.

There clearly seems to be no end to the dual threat quarterback as college football seems to always be chock full of them. Cam Newton (despite the “pay to play” allegations), Terrelle Pryor, and Denard Robinson will all find some place in the NFL, whether it’s as a starter or just another option package, because it’s clear the position of quarterback is transitioning from it’s original foundation into something new and extraordinary.

The NFL goes Democratic

Posted: November 13, 2010 in NFL
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Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu had some choice words about NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s crackdown on fining of hits and tackles:”He’s got all the power, and that may be part of the problem. There needs to be some type of separation of power, like our government. I don’t think it should be based totally on what two or three people may say that are totally away from the game. It should be some of the players that are currently playing.”

Maybe Troy’s right. Maybe there needs to be democracy in the NFL…

It would pan out like this: there would be a federal (the league itself) and state (individual team) levels of government/rules in which would be two totally separate bodies of power with the league trumping team rules.

Courtesy of ESPN

For the federal level, it would be split up into three branches: Roger Goodell would take the level of executive branch as the league commissioner, but the kicker would be instead of signing contracts, he’d be elected to terms (with terms lasting four years, two consecutive max.).

In the next branch would be Congress, in which all 32 teams would have fair and equal representation. As Congress is broken up into Senate and the House of Representatives, this Senate would be broken down into two houses as well: One for players and one for team officials. Each team would send one of each, respectively, to the NFL headquarters in New York to voice their opinion.

In the last one, the Judicial branch is commissioner-appointed and “Senate” approved. Consisting of ex-referees, players, and league officials, they would judge fines, hits, appeals, and on and off the field incidences and determine the rightful penalty/conclusion.

On the so-called state level, each team, decided upon by the owners and front office, would have it’s own individual rules and policies to follow. For instance, the Cincinnati Bengals would rule in favor of touchdown celebrations, in which the T.Ocho show can finally be at peace. Or the Minnesota Vikings would instill a “waiting” period to determine a maximum amount of days to decide whether or not you’re coming back for another season (cue to good ol’ #4) . Or maybe the Jacksonville Jaguars finally do some sort of background check or enforce some sort of punishment for their convict players. (15 arrests since 2007. Yikes!)

But why would this benefit the players as well as the league? With a current controversy on hitting as well as a potentially-looming lockout, current players can talk and reason with the league through discussion, legislation, and eventually finding some sort of compromise between the two sides rather than fighting back and forth through the media.

I know, I know it’s so ideal, unrealistic, etc. But just think about it. We’ve had a bit success on the bigger scale here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, so imagine what it could do for a league that may not even have a season next year. Who knows though, let’s take a vote!

From 1:00 P.M. EST Sunday afternoon in Foxboro, MA to Monday morning in Minnesota, things have been all but chaotic for the Minnesota Vikings.

Let’s start with the fourth quarter of yesterday’s game against the New England Patriots. The Vikings were playing catchup, which has been their trending pattern in the last few games, against the Pats’ young but energized defense and were right on the New England goal line.

Suddenly, after an incomplete throw to  wide receiver Greg Lewis, Brett Favre took a colossal hit from defensive tackle Marlon Pryor mid-throw that left the fans of Minnesota shocked and a bit scared.

Grabbing on to Pryor’s pads in pain, unable to get up or even move his mouth, a ghost-like Favre was attended immediately by trainers, in which they used a towel as a support for his cut chin and eventually carted off the field to receive 10 stitches to the laceration.

The more shocking part was that Favre was able to answer questions from the media and said he “should be ready to play next week”. Are you kidding me!? The 41-year-old veteran, who played with two fractures in his left ankle as well as tendinitis in his throwing arm, not only was able to speak after what the national public had witnessed but claimed he was going to be OK for next week’s game?

What adds on to this confusing mess if the Vikings decision to cut wide receiver Randy Moss after less than a month on the roster. One side is the fact that yeah, what he was saying  (or soon to be lack there of) to the media, criticizing the organization and players for not “listening to what he had to say” about the Patriots or refusing to speak to the press for the rest of the season, or even his lack of effort in route running and catching could all be justified reasons to cut such a player.Courtesy of Reuters

However, on the other side, you’re talking about Randy Moss, a player Super Bowl-winning Patriots coach Bill Belichick called a “soon-to-be hall of famer”, that provided the deep ball threat as well as double coverage that the Vikings lacked in because of wide receiver Sidney Rice’s hip surgery.

Essentially, the Vikings are back at square one, if not square zero. Moss allowed the Vikings to bring back offensive-machine receiver Percy Harvin back in the slot where he belongs. Now, they have to put Harvin back on the outside, where he faces the risk of being double covered, such as what New England slot receiver Wes Welker has dealt with after the Moss trade. This is terrible news for Brett and the Vikes, especially with Rice needing at least three more weeks to recover.

Who do I blame around for this mess? No other than head coach Brad Childress. It was a pre-mature, naive call for Minnesota to give Chilly that fat extension right after that terrible NFC Championship Game earlier this year. I like Childress’ mindset of not tolerating players who cause too much attention, but not at the drastic measure he does.

There have been player problems through the entire Childress tenure such as safety Darren Sharper and wide receiver Bobby Wade, who didn’t like to keep their mouth shut about the things they believed were wrong. Though, this is completely unacceptable and a slap in the face to a distinguished player such as a Moss as well as the entire organization for believing this was “the right call”. I mean hey, we have Bernard Berrian as our big play maker (it’s as almost as if he’s a ghost on the field) and Greg Camarillo to the run slot now (hasn’t gelled with Favre yet), right?

Overall this season, in my opinion, is basically over. I know the stronger chunk of the schedule is over, but we still face the Packers, the Bears (twice), the NFC East-leading New York Giants as well as the Philadelphia Eagles and the Washington Redskins who don’t fall that far behind, respectively.

It's going to be a long season with Chilldress giving orders

It’ll take a lot from power back Adrian Peterson to shift this season around, as well as maimed gunslinger Favre, and even the over-estimated run defense that has shifted from 2nd to 13th in the league within a year. When stout defensive end Jared Allen has only one sack in seven games, you know there’s an issue.

It’s strange and upsetting to accept a ruined Vikings season. Maybe I’m a pessimist, but more so a realist than anything else. So hopefully come in April for the 2011 NFL Draft, Jake Locker, Ryan Mallet, or Christian Ponder will be dressed in purple and yellow.

Oh wait, Childress is signed till 2013. There goes that dream…

Old man Favre

Courtesy of Minneapolis Star-Tribune

That is the question…
Well I figured I kick off this blog, which I have been meaning to post on for the past two weeks, something Vikings-related.

As we may, well hopefully, know Brett Favre came out of retirement (yet again) to bring the Minnesota Vikings the Super Bowl trophy they have dreamed of having ever since the idea that #4 dawned a purple and yellow jersey for the first time in 2009.

The dismal ending to the 2010 NFC Division title game was just a nightmare for a Vikings fan like myself. A classic Favre routine of throwing a game-ending pick to seal the deal for the New Orleans Saints, who would then go on to win their first Super Bowl (something Minneapolis has yet to experience…) The overall game was a horrible performance by the Vikes as they were their own worst enemies with the constant fumbling of Mr. Adrian Peterson, juvenile unforced penalties, and…well you know how the rest goes.

Flash forward to preseason, August 2010. Favre was swayed by head coach Brad Childress after numerous trips down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in which after an ankle surgery and a “bit” of aging, wanted to return the Vikings to dominance and claim that Super Bowl trophy that was once in grasp.

Things have not turned out as ideal as they were planned. Unlike his majestic 33 touchdown, seven interception season he put up as a 40-year-old, Favre’s true color began to show as he stands at a mere seven touchdowns, an [un]surprising 10 interceptions, and an overall quarterback rating of 68.0. To add to this mess of a situation, Favre is yet again questionable to play as he suffered two ankle fractions in the loss to the Green Bay Packers.

It boils down to this: should Chilly start Favre? The team holds an embarrassing league-low record of 2-4 at the Week 7 mark and shows no sign of promise, especially with the injuries amounting in their secondary and offensive line. Is it time to give Tarvaris Jackson another shot? Or do the Vikings give Favre another 20-something cortisone shots in his ankle to go in and play like the Super Bowl winning quarterback he once was, or the 41 year old grandpa he is now. (Fact: Brett’s daughter, Brittany gave birth to a son last April, making #4 the only grandpa in the league. I wish I could make this stuff up)

It’ll be interesting to see how the week unfolds, as well as the tension filled relationship between Favre and Childress plays out. In my honest opinion, you need to give Brett at least another game to truly believe in benching him. With a prestigious career such as his, it would be a slap in the face to the man to entice him to come back for another season to only bench him half way through the season. And then again, our backup quarterback is Tarvaris Jackson…

The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them?